week long challenge

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Week Thirteen: Wellness Goals

Published Wednesday, September 12, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

Hello, blog world. As it turns out, I am alive. Would you like the standard excuses for my neglect? Work. College. Apathy. Forgetfulness.

But it’s okay. I have started an ongoing wellness challenge, which I realized, fits relatively well with my Roaring Twenties challenges. Wait, wellness? Yes, however hippie/new age it sounds, wellness.

Over the summer, I joined a wellness book club at my very health-conscious office. As part of the club curriculum, we read Wellness on a Shoestring Budget. The premise of this book is that everyone can live a healthy lifestyle, regardless of income or status. Dr. Michelle Robin describes seven categories that contribute to bodily health and inner wellness. Therefore, I have taken these categories and made three goals for each one. For the first two weeks (I’m on Day 9), my goal within the goals is to do one objective* from each category.

1. Rest, Reflect, Rejuvenate

This category focuses on restoring the body and the soul. It is meant to recharge your batteries, make you mindful of the world around you, and encourage you to be a little indulgent with yourself.

  • Sleep 7 to 9 hours a night
  • Appreciate a moment (for its beauty or the inspiration it brings you)
  • Take 10 minutes a day for YOU

2. Breathe Deeply

Breathing helps us relax. It calms our body and mind. It delivers oxygen to your organs and muscles. It’s just plain refreshing.

  • Breathe deeply…when waking.
  • Breathe deeply…when stressed.
  • Breathe deeply…when falling asleep.

3. Move Your Body

Our bodies need to move. We need to exercise our muscles, less we become stagnant. I mean, we’ve all seen the New Year’s Resolution commercials. Yay, exercise.

  • Practice good posture
  • Get up and move every 45 minutes
  • Exercise 30 minutes per day

4. Free Your Space

Clutter, whether physical or mental, causes anxiety. Anxiety hurts our body and our minds.

  • Keep desks organized
  • Keep rooms organized
  • Resolve mental clutter

5. Go for the Greens

Green veggies are one of the best sources of nutrients. And, as anyone can tell you, healthy eating habits are probably a good idea.

  • Control portion sizes (aka, stay in your skinny jeans)
  • Eat a veggie at each meal
  • Drink one green smoothie per week (This objective will be substituted shortly, because, despite their health benefits, I just can’t do it. Gross.)

6. Eat from the Sea & Enjoy the Sun

Fish have Omega-3s, which are probably the key to immortality. Okay, that might be a stretch, but they’re good for everything from heart care to preventing cancer. The sun gives you Vitamin-D, Vitamin-D makes you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t. (Bonus points for anyone who can name that movie)

  • Eat one tbsp of flax seed each day (non-fish source of Omega-3s)
  • Spend 10-15 minutes in the sun each day
  • Eat a green vegetable each day (another good source of Omega-3s; this goal may need to be substituted as well)

7. Drink to Your Health

  • Drink half my body weight in ounces of water each day
  • Drink room temperature water (cold water restricts the esophagus)
  • Do not drink 30 minutes before/after a meal (water dilutes necessary digestive juices)

Overall,  I think I am doing a relatively good job of accomplishing my goals. Some of them are already habitual (Free Your Space), while others are quickly becoming so (sleeping 7-9 hours and drinking enough water). It may just be placebo effect, but I truly believe that I have already noticed a change (albeit subtle) in my health. Taking time to rest, breathe, and drink water have given me more energy (most days), and I tend to wake up feeling refreshed, rather than sluggish. I also pee a lot more, but that’s between me and my kidneys.

I still have a long way to go. Some goals need to be substituted for ones that don’t offend my taste palate. I need to figure out how to motivate myself to exercise (which is laughable considering my history with exercising and the “definite” lack of time in my schedule — yes, in the rock/paper/scissors of life, college trumps all excuses). However, I’m pleased with the progress that I’m making, and if nothing else…

It can’t hurt.

For a more technical analysis of why these things are healthy, click on the book name from the opening paragraph or refer to your favorite search engine.

*Bolded objectives denote objectives that I have accomplished every single day.

Week Twelve: Write One Poem Each Day

Published Wednesday, July 4, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

I forgot how much I needed this, writing, that is.

I went into this week’s challenge with two distinct mindsets: A) This is going to be absolutely horrible and embarrassing and B) I need this, who gives a shit if I can’t write right now!

You see, poetry and I have an interesting relationship. I went to college with the idea that I wanted to be a novelist, not a poet. After taking two poetry courses, I found that I like the genre and that I’m not completely incapable of writing it. However, I’m usually not one of those people who just “spouts” poetry. You won’t find me lounging under the stars with a bottle of wine and spewing out romantic observations of the infinite beauty of the universe. That’s just not who I am – I’m too analytical and gritty for that nonsense.

In class, writing poetry is easy. It doesn’t really come from me. The professor gives me a topic. I give her a few stanzas, keeping everything clear, concise, and comprehensible. Most of the time, I play it safe. For me, each piece I write (however detached I think I am from it) contains a little piece of my soul, and sometimes I really don’t want academia dissecting it.

The exception to my cautious-ness came in the form of a “choice” poem (aka – no topic, do whatever the hell you want). I paced the floor for hours, trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to say. To me, writing (and all art) needs to have a purpose, needs to do something – either for the artist, the audience, or the world. So there I was, bitching about my lack of freedom and simultaneously incapable of doing anything with it.

I got mad at myself. And in typical fashion, I thought about writers and lyricists that inspire me. All of my favorite writers have a very important aspect in common: they all take a position or a piece of themselves and wrap it up in a metaphor, one that relates to everyone, but that very few people fully understand (as far as the writer’s intention is concerned).

So that’s what I did then, and I loved the result. Not only did I like the poem, but I liked how it made me feel to write it – inspired, empowered, and happy. Therefore, when my world came crashing down a little over a week ago, I decided to check myself into creative rehab for a week. Some of these poems are the metaphors I love. Some are extremely literal. But each one taught me something about myself, and each one contains a little piece of me.

In case you’ve been in the dark, here are the results of my challenge:

  1. Wednesday – A Poem about Loss and Friendship
  2. Thursday – I Am Emma Bovary
  3. Friday – Pet Peeves
  4. Saturday – The Problem with Society
  5. Sunday – Perception
  6. Monday – Oasis
  7. Tuesday – If I Am the Ocean

Oasis

Published Monday, July 2, 2012 by Chasing Neptune
Sand, rock, warm-bellied
critters – I cannot see the border
of the desert. West ended in a broken
camera lens. North ended in a wooden
cross.
South never began.
 
Dare I go East?
I do.
 
And I find it. My oasis.
 
Grass tickles up my ankles to
my belly. Palm trees lean
over me, offering shade, relief,
protection. Cool waters wash
the dust
off
      my
            bones.
 
I open my eyes. Still miles away,
my oasis, lurking against the skyline.
I take one step, smell green fronds
and fresh algae. I take two steps,
smell burnt sand and reptilian
peels.
 
Heat waves, from earth and sun,
intertwine. My oasis shimmies
and shimmers. Can I see through the air,
hot and trembling,
to my turquoise paradise?
 
Or is it merely a mirage,
as close to my hands
as it is to the horizon?

The Problem with Society

Published Saturday, June 30, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

They built their home up,

one speck at a time – wax, salt,

dirt.

She built herself up,

one word at a time – witty, creative,

beautiful.

They worked every day: diggers tunneling,

scavengers hunting, the queen

breeding.

She worked every day: reading Jane Austen,

painting mason jars, framing ocean

eyes.

He crushed them in one motion,

foot flattening the hill, big toe

twisting into the dirt – nothing left

but the stamp of a sole.

He crushed her in one motion,

analytical eyes scanning her figure, slick

tongue dripping his poison – nothing left

but the stamp of a soul.

Friends high-fived him, pulled out

magnifying glasses to burn

off the homeless survivors.

Friends high-fived him, flicked

cigarette buds at her to burn

off the last of her courage.

How can we love each other,

when we are taught

to crush anthills?

Week Eleven: Twitter (Results)

Published Monday, June 18, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

I still don’t get it.

Okay, let me qualify that better. I get why people use Twitter to follow musicians, artists, companies, etc. It’s nice to always know what’s going on with your favorite people and things, and the chance to interact with these entities is heightened by this type of social media.

However, I still do not understand why “regular” people post on Twitter all of the time. Unless you’re using it to network or interact with individuals that are unobtainable in your everyday life, why post everything you do on the internet? If your heart is so broken and scarred, why not go write a poem or a song or call into Love Line at night? If your new shoes are sooooo cuuuutee XDDD, why not send your best friend a picture? I guarantee that not many people beyond her care about them.

And again, I’ll admit to my own flaws. I like to blog. I gain satisfaction from other people reading and critiquing my writing. But I don’t need to do it obsessively. I don’t measure my self-worth in readers (or I’d surely be suicidal). I do this for me, and I try to make it worth others’ time when they do read it.

Long story short, I believe that when people use social media, it should be for a purpose. I also believe that when people send their brainwaves out into the internet, they should intend to enrich themselves and/or others.

The fact that “Yu trusted ur closest friend &d den shee betr8d u #2FaceBeotch” does not matter to the world. To your school counselor, maybe, but not to Twitter. Twitter doesn’t need to know, I promise.

If I ever do get a permanent account, it will be to stay updated on my favorite bands and to network.

For now, account deactivated.

Week Eleven: Twitter (Preview)

Published Sunday, June 10, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

As I type this, I am 105% sure that I have lost the majority of my self-respect. Let me explain.

As stated in my last post, I feel rather lame about skipping out on The Roaring Twenties challenges for so many weeks. Therefore, I thought to myself, “Self, what are the two worst things that we could do?” To which I replied, “Exercise and join Twitter.” Well, I exercised, so now it’s time to Tweet.

Let me explain further. And if you need to hate me in order to validate your own self-worth, go ahead. I’m happy to do that for you.

I understand that Twitter has benefits. You can “communicate” and “network” with people. You can see what your favorite musician, author, actor, other celebrity-person, and friends are doing at all times. So, for stalkers, it is the ultimate tool. Also, it provides you an avenue by which to be stalked and put your thoughts out there into the cyber world. I suppose that aspect is a bit like blogging: you send ideas out there into space and hope that they become little bugs on some spaceship’s windshield.

For this aspect, I am a hypocrite, as I use my blog to put my thoughts on the internet, arrogantly assuming that someone will find them interesting. So, I can understand the motivation here.

However, when it comes right down to it, I mentally cannot comprehend the point of Twitter. Seriously, I believe that it is one of the most pointless social-networking sites ever created. I cannot even properly articulate how ridiculous I find it. You sit there, “Tweet-ing” every little thing that happens to you throughout the day. Oh, I just took a swig of Mountain Dew #nectarofthegods. WHO CARES? Seriously, I don’t care. I guarantee most of your “followers” don’t care. And if I had to guess, I would even say that most of your friends don’t care. So why tell everyone?

Now, again, I realize that I am a hypocrite. After all, I write these blog entries, bashing Twitter, handing out exercise advice that I am not at all qualified to give, and describing my poetry — and I expect that someone, somewhere will read it. Yes, my blogging is vain and follows the self-obsessed trend of my generation. Here’s the difference: at least with blogging, you have the space to properly articulate your thoughts, and most of the time, blogging is used as an avenue for art (poetry, literature, photography). I don’t care how you try to spin it: unless your Twitter account is advertisement for your business or all you post is (what’s the lingo here?) “Twit photos” or Lockerz photos or something like that, all you are doing is pointlessly documenting your every move and making shout-outs to celebrities, companies, and strangers that probably don’t give a damn about what you ate for breakfast.

Call me a hypocrite. Call me a misanthrope. Call me technologically-inept. Whatever you want.

My point is this: I feel like the majority of “Tweeters” only use Twitter as a way to satisfy their self-obsession, craft vain self-identities, and validate their self-worth, based on the number of Followers and Re-Tweets they can acquire. To me, all of this should come from real human interaction and doing something artistic or productive off-line, but hey, what do I know?

Long story short, I have created a Twitter account, and for one week, I am going to “Tweet” and “Follow” people and see what this whole stupid craze is all about.

If you would like to take part in my self-loathing and complete loss of self-respect as I abandon my Twitter-non-conformist values, feel free to “Follow Me” @KateNeptune.

Week Ten: How to Exercise

Published Sunday, June 10, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

As a way to quote punish quote myself for skipping out on a few weeks. I decided to exercise once a day, every day as my Week Ten challenge. For those of you who don’t actually know me, know this: I hate to exercise. I am the girl who only runs when A) it’s raining and I need to get to/from my car or B) when I’m being chased by someone particularly unpleasant. My idea of exercise is bouncing on my heels and waving my arms at a My Chemical Romance concert. Anything beyond that is just a waste of my carefully-stored caloric energy. However, this week, I figured what the hell? Why not try to be a healthy person for once in my life?

So I did. Between walking with my mom and neighbor, taking two “professional” exericise classes, and having dance parties (one PS3/Zumba supervised, one not), I found that I could actually…gasp of disbelief…ENJOY exercise.

From this weird revelation, I have devised a few tips for all those who, like me, detest exercise. I’m sure that they have all been said before, but hey, it can’t hurt to drill something healthy into your head, can it?

1. Figure out why you don’t exercise.

I hate the gym. It is embarrassing and disgusting. It is the mating ground of the low IQ, thick-necked, and meaty-handed of my generation. In my honest opinion, the only people who go to the gym are those who want to be seen “working out,” as if anyone wants to see their sweaty bodies sliding against the padded backrests and metal bars of the exercise equipment. What are you trying to prove?Maybe I’m just a country girl, but I am not impressed by jocks playing with metal. Go exercise outside — run down your street, in the fresh air, and tone your muscles by doing some actual, physical labor. Don’t artificially construct your body with machines.

So, I hate the gym because it and its patrons are gross, and I have transferred that hatred onto all exercise. Why do you refuse to exercise? Figure it out, and then figure out a way to get over it.

2. Be unconventional.

Pardon my Jersey, but fuck running. Running sucks. It really does. Sure, it’s a great way to build muscle strength and improve your cardio-vascular health, but it hurts and it’s boring. So, instead of beating your ankles to death on a treadmill or a sidewalk, do something fun. Play Zumba, try Yoga, crank up your favorite song and dance like an idiot for half an hour, chase a frisbee with your dog. It doesn’t matter. Just do something fun. If you’re not in the best of shape, and you sacrifice yourself to the treadmill gods, they will kill you, and you will not want to exercise again. Trust me. Start slow. Have fun.

3. Find your motivation.

“Being healthy” may be enough motivation for some people, but for me, it’s not enough. I tell myself that I should be in better shape, that it will help me live longer and have more energy, but in the end, I’d rather sit on my couch and watch Tosh.0 than lift weights. So, in order to motivate myself, I decided to rely on my biggest personality defects: my overwhelming sense of obligation and my pride. I’m one of those sad, little people who feels obligation to the core and will see a task through to the end (mostly out of fear of failure and sheer vanity) no matter how miserable it makes me. Therefore, when I decided to exercise every day for this challenge, my twenty years of self-inflicted, insane goal reaching refused to let me fail. So, I did it because I had to. Because if I didn’t, I would have felt like a failure, and I can’t stand to fail.

So what motivates you? Are you insane like me? Or is it something more personal? Do you want to get back into that swimsuit, like every Jenny Craig ad demands? Or do you want to spend more time with your kids, or live to meet your great-grandchildren? Whatever it is, focus on it and exercise for that — not for the mere sake of conforming to society’s idea that being “in-shape” makes you a good person.

4. Focus on the positive.

A lot of “beginner’s” exercise articles I have read focus on keeping track of the positive effects of exercise. They say to write down how you feel before, during, or after your workout, relying on the idea that one will feel better when one is done exercising. While I think this tactic can be useful, I would also add being positive about yourself and your goals.

When you’re out of breath and sweating and your ass is on fire, don’t think: Oh, I’m so fat and out-of-shape. Instead, think: Damn, I must actually be accomplishing something. Instead of harping on your body for being weak, remind yourself of all the great things it does for you — your lungs take in oxygen, your heart pumps your blood, your brain controls everything. When you stop and think about your body and all the miraculous things it does for you, you realize just how insignificant the soreness in your arms really is.

Then, when your body is exhausted, go back to thinking about your motivation. Focus on the positive: this temporary discomfort is bringing you closer to your goal, and in the end, it will make you happy. I know that being positive is harder than it sounds, and I know that all of this happy stuff sounds like a load of crap, but try it. It worked for me.

5. Lie to yourself.

If all else fails, just lie to yourself. I mean, I don’t know what you saw…but you totally used ten pound weights, not five. And you definitely ran for a whole mile and not just 9/10 of one. And you absolutely made it through the entire sword-fighting tournament on your Wii Fit.

This sounds like a complete cop-out (which it is). But when you never exercise, doing something is better than doing nothing. As long as you are at least taking the steps, who cares if they are baby steps?

So that is my advice, for whatever it’s worth. Will I continue working out every day? No way. I’m busy and lazy. However, I am going to try to make it a somewhat-more-regular part of my week, starting with work-out class at my job on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even join a gym.

 

No, no I won’t. Those places are disgusting.

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